Red Snapper Fishing Basics

Kid wearing sunglasses holding red snapper

Fishing for Pensacola red snapper is an exciting hobby, and it doesn’t have to be difficult to learn. Once you’ve learned the basics about these fish and where they like to hide, you’ll be able to catch them like a pro. There are a few important facts to know before you go fishing for red snapper, like what equipment you’ll need to use, the best type of bait to use for red snapper, and where you’re most likely to find them. Read on to learn more about this exciting type of fishing and how to get started. 

Catching Pensacola Red Snapper 

Have you always wanted to go fishing for red snapper? One of the best ways to catch this elusive fish is to learn everything that you can about their location and habits. Luckily, they’re one of the more popular game fish in the southeastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico, so there’s plenty of information available about them.

These fish are happiest on the bottom of the ocean, hiding in reefs, deep water structures, wrecks, and debris. You’ll find them in a wide range of depths, from 35 feet to almost 200 feet deep. This gives you plenty of opportunity to find red snapper while deep sea fishing. 



What’s the Best Equipment? 

There’s a huge variety of rigs to choose from for fishing for red snapper, and it’s always a good idea to utilize braided fishing line for any type of bottom fishing. Consider utilizing an egg sinker, or a sinker with a range of 8-32 ounces of lead. The main line should be connected to a swivel for maximum mobility. Use a red bead to keep your knot protected from the weight of the sinker, so that even if the weight hits your swivel your knot won’t break or slide. 


What’s most important is that your leader is a decent length. Pensacola red snapper have great eyesight, and they’re often quite picky about the bait that they’ll go after. Using a longer leader helps limit the issues that you’ll encounter from their excellent eyesight. 


What are the Best Types of Bait for Pensacola Red Snapper? 

The bigger the red snapper you’re trying to catch, the bigger the fish you’re using as bait should be. They like small pinfish, squid, crustaceans, and pilchard. Anything that flaps around and moves a fair amount will draw their attention. 


To catch as many red snapper as possible, fish in a charter that’s anchored and reel in the fish as quickly as you can, before they escape back to the bottom again. Use the most attractive bait possible, especially if you’re in an area that’s frequently fished. Smaller live bait works best in an area that’s heavily fished, as the flapping about attracts the red snapper in a way that dead bait certainly won’t. You may also opt to use a combination of dead beat, squid, and cut fish to bring them in. 

Big snappers will go after dead bait from time to time, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll do it consistently. This means that it’s usually a wise idea to make sure that you have a selection of both live bait and cuts of fish on hand to keep them interested. Pensacola red snapper like variety, and they like their bait to be moving if possible. 

If you’re struggling to come up with enough live bait, consider using cuts of meat like tuna and amberjack, but you’ll need pieces that are large enough that smaller fish can’t just snap it up in a single bite. Use the lightest possible lead weight with the bait that you’ve selected, so that you can get the bait down as far as possible to the fish that are hiding in the deep reefs. 

Many of the red snapper may be hanging out in the upper part of the reef, so it’s important not to throw the bait straight past them. Your goal is to use the correct amount of weight so that your bait sinks along the current. This will take some experimentation to get your bait into the feeding zone where the biggest fish are.


What are the Best Jigs to Catch Pensacola Red Snapper? 

You can also opt for jigs to target red snapper. Metal jigs commonly attract them, as well as luminous jigs. You can opt for a plain jig, or you can dress it up with squid to make it more attractive. Either way, the jig’s job is to catch the fish’s attention, so that it sees the bait. Choose something bright and sparkly to grab the red snapper’s attention and draw their eye to the bait that you’ve chosen. 



Where Can You Find Pensacola Red Snapper? 

The older that the fish are, the deeper into the ocean they’ll go. Younger snapper are happy to adventure into sandy bottoms and shallow waters, but the larger adult fish are usually found in the deeper waters, sometimes going all the way up to 500 feet. They’re also found around coral reefs, drop offs, debris, and ledges. 


To catch the red snappers hiding this deep, you’ll need a strong rod, as well as tackle rated up to 50-100 pounds. Select braided line whenever you can obtain it, as it’s resistant to water, stretches less, and is less breakable but still sensitive. 

Fishing for Pensacola red snapper is a fun and exciting hobby, but it may take you some time to learn the skills that you’ll need. These fish prefer specific types of bait, hide deep in reefs and debris, and are happiest while having deep water adventures. However, with the right types of bait, line, and jigs, you’ll be able to hook numerous medium to large red snappers.